Spring in Oregon is off to a warm, sunny start but with gyms, parks, mountain resorts and many waterways closed in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19, staying active, especially in the outdoors can feel like a remote possibility. As a longtime runner, I’ve found solace in an activity that I can still do that keeps me sane (and others safe). After all, even as we stay home to save lives, it’s important to take care of ourselves too. Getting exercise is not only beneficial to your physical health, but it’s also a really great way to keep the quarantine blues at bay.
Here are a few tips for hitting the pavement, track, or trails during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Stay home if you feel ill
First, and probably most important: Stay home if you feel ill. Not that going for a run is top of your list if you’re sick anyway, but with spring also comes seasonal allergies. When in doubt, don’t go out. When you’re on your run, avoid touching your face and be sure to wash your hands for at least 20 seconds when you get home.
Consider the popularity of your route
I love running along Portland’s Eastbank Esplanade, but nowadays it’s very important to maintain a safe distance — at least six feet — from others. It’s best to avoid popular spots that could be crowded with other runners, bikers or pedestrians; this is especially true on trails where it’s more difficult to give a wide berth.
Look up current park restrictions
When you’re choosing a route, in addition to avoiding popular trails and paths, be sure to research local park closures. I’ve enjoyed finding new running routes from my home — it’s easy and doesn’t involve driving. If you need inspiration, try Map My Run to find routes others have taken in your city. And for those looking for a fun challenge…or a way to kill time, you can get creative when planning your route with GPS art.
Distance yourself from other runners and pedestrians
For me, running is a quiet escape — in this case, pop in your earbuds, press play on your favorite playlist and go. If you prefer to run with someone else, it’s best if they are a member of your household. Stay at least six feet apart from pedestrians and unofficial running buddies. When passing another person, it’s polite to give them a heads up that you’re approaching: A quick “on your left” lets them know you’re there and gives them an opportunity to help you create space.
Whether you’re looking for a little exercise from home or training for one of the many organized races across the state that has gone virtual, running is a great way to get outside while still doing your part to help flatten the curve.